Ohio is launching a new office dedicated to ensuring transparency in its elections, Secretary of State Frank LaRose announced last week.
According to a LaRose press release, the Office of Data Analytics and Archives, which will be housed within the secretary of state’s office, signifies “the first-ever substantive effort by any state to adopt a clear and consistent method for retaining election data.” The office received funding via the DATA Act, which was included in the biennial operating budget recently passed by Ohio legislators.
“Election officials haven’t been required to keep electronic records after an election, so they’re often just erasing and discarding the data instead of archiving it for transparency,” LaRose said in a statement. “There’s also no standard definition for these records, which leads to confusing outcomes for anyone trying to analyze election results. We’re about to change all of that. This legislation is really a game-changer for election integrity, and I’m proud that Ohio is once again leading the way.”
Introduced by LaRose and GOP state Sen. Theresa Gavarone, the DATA Act contains four key provisions aimed at bringing transparency to Ohio’s voter data and elections. While the first provision “codifies standard definitions of key election data points” that will permit post-election results to “be analyzed more accurately,” the second designates the Office of Data Analytics and Archives to “serve as a clearinghouse for the retention and review of electronic election records.”
The law will furthermore increase public access to election data by permitting the Office of Data Analytics and Archives to publish such information online “both following an election for auditing purposes and over time for comparative analysis year-over-year.” Any and all election data will additionally be transmitted to the office following any election, according to the measure.
Election integrity groups such as the Voter Reference Foundation (VRF) have since celebrated the law’s passage. In a Monday press release, VRF — which ranks states based on how transparent they’re being with their data and overall election operations — noted how Ohio’s passage of the DATA Act increased its score by 8 points, making it the second “most transparent” state in the nation.
“Ohio’s persistent commitment to election integrity has increased their data transparency score,” VRF President Gina Swoboda said in a statement. “Ohio is a model for other states to increase their transparency.”
Additional information on VRF’s grading methodology can be found here.